SWANCON & NAFF IV
by Edwina Harvey
(First published in Edwina's LiveJournal on 1 August 2008.)
GOOD FRIDAY, 20 MARCH 2008
After a breakfast of Lucy’s Mum’s home-dried fruit and my contribution of store-bought biscuits, we set out to get our bearings in the hotel.
Friday was the day when I got to most of the panels I’d intended to go to, and even a few that I hadn’t.
Lucy suggested I should go to a panel on Fan Funds. Panel speakers were Sue and Steve Frances, the current DUFF delegates, David Cake, Ju Landesee, Damian Warman and Juliet, Lucy Zinkiewicz, Janice Gelb and Sue-Ann Barber. I sat in the audience, listened and began to see how and why Fan Funds work. Later I bought a trip report from Emma Hawkes, and another from Ju. I also tried a bit of fund-raising my way by selling raffle tickets for a chocolate Easter casket I’d made up.
After that panel, I wandered past one on using info gathered by Land-satellites (on Earth) and how it can help authors design their own worlds. This talk was given by Rebecca Handcock, and it was very interesting and informative. Once or twice she deferred to Andrew Williams, also in the audience, and my ears pricked up. I’ve known an Andrew Williams through his contributions to Hitch-hikers and Blake’s 7 fandom on the east coast of Australia for a number of years. Bec’s presentation had started with some B7 stills, so with that tenuous connection, I was wondering if this was the Andrew Williams I’d corresponded with for many years. Turns out it’s not. There’s an east Coast and West Coast variety of Andrew Williams’ in Australian SF.
When I returned to the dealers’ room to check in with Asimmum, I discovered I’d missed Jo Anderton’s brief visit to Swancon. My issue of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (33) and Jo’s first issue – 34 – were both printed at the same time and we were launching both at Swancon. Pity I missed her!
After lunch at the hotel’s café, it was on to a Romance panel with Satima Flavell, Glenda Larkin, & Julliette Marillier. There was some lively discussion about male bonding. I’ve been corresponding with Satima for a while, so at the end of the panel, I went and introduced myself to her. She gave me a big hug as welcome. Wow!
I also heard Zara Baxter give a talk on statistics gathered as research into children’s reading patterns.
Passing through the foyer, I ended up in discussion with Steve and Sue Frances who were still waiting for their lost luggage to turn up! This became a theme for anyone talking to them during the con.
If I’d known Sue and Steve’s travel dates in advance, I’d have tried to organize something for them in Sydney, but as it turned out I’d be arriving home in Sydney about the time they’d be flying out to their next destination (Melbourne, I think?) Oh well, maybe they’ll come back to Australia if we win the 2010 Worldcon bid and I’ll have a chance to show them some hospitality then?
That evening there was a shared book launch in the car park to promote Alyssa Krasnostein’s 2012 production and Russell B. Farr’s Workers Paradise anthology.
Russell in particular is to be admired for his passion and dedication to the local small press market.
I’m not sure *why* they held the launch in a carpark. It could have been that all of the con rooms were booked for other things at the time of the launch, but I have been noticing a growing trend towards “user pays” book-launches at cons in recent years. This might be all well and good for professional publishing houses that have large advertising budgets and can write promotion off on their tax, but the small-press in Australia have no such options. Once you’ve committed yourself to investing your own money in a publication, there isn’t an awful lot of money left over to spend on launches. I wish more con-organizers would realize this and give small press launches a break.
I enjoyed the novelty of the venue for this launch. There were two recumbent bicycles in amongst the cars in the carpark. They grabbed my interest, because I know someone who has scratch-built a couple of recumbents. These two looked more like pedal-cars for grown-ups, though. But given the rising price of petrol, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of them on our streets in the future.
I got the chance to tell Bec Handcock how much I’d enjoyed her presentation earlier in the day, and during the course of our conversation, she explained her hidden talent for “dressing” people in period costume in her mind. She can look at someone and see them wearing a style of clothes from this era or that. Bec can then verbally “dress” you, i.e. “I see you wearing *this* design from *this* era. This would be *this* colour, or maybe *this* colour would look good on you.” It was all very fun and flattering, and vaguely reminded me of someone offering to read your palm at a party. Great for keeping the conversation rolling along!
Bec also explained how she had made use of the Leap year tradition to propose to her boyfriend, Mikey. She’d created a book and used it to propose to him, and he’d said “Yes”. What a lovely idea!
I also spotted Danny Oz at the launch. His friends and family had all chipped in so he could travel in style to this Swancon, travelling from East to West on the Indian Pacific, the train that takes 3 days to travel across Australia.
I took the Indian Pacific home after I’d been to my first Swancon in 2002. I still have wonderful memories of the trip including seeing the Southern Cross rise out of the desert the first night onboard the train.
The con-auction was my next port of call, and I arrived just in time to see someone offer $6 to see Jon (?) and Lee Battersby run towards each other in slow motion and hug while the audience hummed the theme from Chariots of Fire. I was about to say moments like that can’t be bought, but obviously they can at some auctions! And whoever bid the $6 made a good investment, I think! Danny Oz later joined the list of auctioneers at the front of the room. He probably needs a “fix” of auctioning the way I need a “fix” of sitting behind a dealers table - even if it’s someone elses’ at a con.
Tehani arrived at about 8.30am with Guest of Honour, Rob Shearman whom she’d shang-hied to push the luggage trolley for her! That woman’s shameless! ; - )
Inspired by her, after introductions, (he already knew Lucy. Everybody knows Lucy!) I sold Rob some raffle tickets.
Lucy and I made an attempt at the hotel breakfast. It turned into a “pick a number, any number – as long as it’s got a $ in front of it” farce. Another fan had told us the previous day if you were staying at the con hotel breakfast was only $5. The waitress at the café said it was $17, the café manager said it was $17, but go see reception if you want to find out about the special rate. The girl at reception said $15, which she quickly upped to $17 after a phone call from the café manager. But it was only $10 if you booked it with your accommodation. Well, our accommodation bookings had been pretty much last minute. The receptionist said we could have the special rate if we paid for all the nights we were staying, including the day before when we hadn’t had breakfast. There’s never a Tardis around when you need it, is there? We ended up back at the room eating biscuits and dried fruit for breakfast.
It was Market Day at the con. Andromeda Spaceways had its own table (on the other days of the con ASIM was sharing a small press table with a number of other publishers.) I had the chance to get my huckstering “fix” sitting behind the ASIM table, selling books and magazines, and also flogging raffle tickets for my Easter egg raffle.
I also went to Rob Shearman’s reading. He chose a clever, witty, poignant story from his “Tiny Deaths” anthology, and I was inspired to buy the book and get him to sign it for me afterwards.
Brendan Carson, a talented Australian writer, who I’ve chatted to over the years mostly via the Eidolist e-mailing list, was at Swancon introduced himself and his lovely wife, Catherine Gunson to me. It was nice to meet him in person, and just as nice to talk to his fascinating wife. I didn’t notice her walking stick until Brendan mentioned her spinal surgery, showed me her scar and suggested she sit down. We occupied a few spare chairs behind the ASIM table and continued our conversation. Catherine breeds cats! Brendan endeared himself to me by saying he liked donkeys, and I think they still own a couple of horses. I have the temerity to ask Catherine what she knows about cruciate ligament injuries and tell her about Keely. She tells me they once had a half-greyhound, half-mareema. My mind boggles as I struggle to come up with a mental picture of that!
Lucy had suggested we go shopping prior to my meeting Brendan and Catherine, and she keeps going away and coming back, but I’m really enjoying my conversation with these two people! Finally, I apologise and cave in to the desire to see what lies beyond the hotel as I haven’t really been outside since arriving on Thursday evening.
Ian Nichols tried to give us instructions on how to find a shop that sold wonderful chocolates. He’s been using the chocolates to bribe people to buy books, and he’s running low on bribes. He seriously underestimates my navigation skills in a strange city! I’m willing, because there’s chocolate involved, but it doesn’t seem so easy once we’re out on the street. I peer apprehensively down the first cross-street in his direction. Lucy, with better eyesight, also peers and isn’t too confident about following the rest of his directions either. She points out that we’re on foot while he drove, so it could be a lot further than we think it is. I accept defeat. Probably just as well, because I suspect I would have got lost trying to get back to the hotel.
On coming back I make a detour to the art room, and it’s uplifting to discover that all three pieces I’ve submitted to the artshow have bids on them! Emma Hawkes, bless her, has bid on my silk evening purse with the silhouette of a witch flying her broomstick in front of the moon!
With the promise of money coming in, I go and bid on a lovely framed print of two seals I’ve been admiring since I saw it. I’ve since become the happy owner of that piece.
I return to the Dealers room and count the number of raffle tickets sold. Tehani (who has sold many of the raffle tickets in my absence!) takes the initiative, does a round of the room and sells off the remainder of the book. Then she organizes someone to draw the raffle! The lucky ticket holder is Lucy Zinkiewicz! She promptly demands a re-draw, saying the whole thing will look like it’s rigged if she accepts the prize, and she already has chocolate. (Lucy has obviously never encountered the “There’s no such thing as too much chocolate” principle!) On the second draw, Blake Battersby is the lucky winner, Dave Luckett helps me spot dad, Lee Battersby, and he’s happy to take the prize. Blake even shares the chocolate around. The raffle has raised $55 for NAFF! Combined with the $5 from the book I donated to the auction, that’s $60 I’ve raised!
I politely dodge a couple of invites out to dinner. It’s not that I don’t want to be sociable, but there’s food in the room, and money I don’t spend on dinner can go on something more tangible. (Who am I trying to kid? Just about everything I eat sits around my stomach or hips for years and years, if *that’s* not tangible, what is?)
This evening there’s a book launch for Sean William’s new book, “The Changeling”, as well as Karen Miller’s new book. They’re both very tempting, but I’m slightly more loyal to Sean Williams; my loyalty forged back in the days when he had time to engage in e-mailed “pun wars” that I approached with all the seriousness and preparation of a professional athlete. (That’d be hard to believe for anyone who’s ever seen me.) Anyway, I still have a soft spot for him, but that puts me in the majority. He seems to have the same mystical charisma Harpo Marx had: you can’t find anyone who has a bad thing to say about the guy. Or his writing!
Lucy buys a copy of Karen’s book and gets it autographed, so we’re yin and yang between us.
I seem to be collecting books at a great rate! Someone gave me a copy of “Escape By Sea” a YA historical novel set in Roman times by L.S. Lawrence. I’ve since read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I’m wondering in retrospect if I’ve met the author?
The pre-costume parade, post dinner plans get drastically altered when Lucy receives a SMS from Sue-Ann saying she’s just been scammed out of $50 at the autoteller. At 6pm. In broad daylight. (We’d heard warnings about this neighbourhood, but until then, I’d thought someone might have just wanted to scare us a little.) She’s okay, unhurt, but a little shaken up. (Who wouldn’t be?) Lucy goes off on a rescue mission.
The masquerade Saturday evening had a “Come as your favourite hero or villain” theme. People for the costume parade and people for the audience mingle before the main con room is open.
Great to see there were a *lot* of costumes! Among my favourites were Big Scary Monsters (the costumes apparently made in the last 3 days!), Danger Mouse,
The 3 Angels from the Dr Who episode, “Blink” and Jarrod, the Goblin King and Sarah from Labyrinth, from the same two costumers who were dressed as The Doctor and Captain Jack posed in front of the Tardis in the lobby earlier in the day.
I have long lusted after David Bowie in *that* outfit! And here was a very good replica in front of me, down to the tell-tale bulge in the skin-tight pants! I wasn’t giving up this golden opportunity, so after a polite “May I?” I fondled the bulge. The costumer told us the bulge is a bust enhancer. Jarrod and Sarah dance to “It’s in your eyes” in the masquerade and they steal the show.
Craig Macbride wanders past in black cloak and pencilled-on moustache. I tell him he’s come as my hero, Groucho Marx. He points to my “Legolas Is My House Elf” T-shirt and say I’ve obviously come as a slash writer. (Well, he’s got Groucho’s wit, even if it *is* a Zorro costume he’s wearing.)
Sean Williams is D.J-ing the post costume parade disco.
Shy, quiet, retiring wall flower that I am (not!) even I get up and dance despite being nervous about bumping into people. I especially appreciated it when Sean played Ant Music!!! Wonder if I could bribe him to play a bit of Big Country next time?